University of Bahr el Ghazal students protest on the streets of Wau over food shortages. (Photo: Radio Tamazuj)

Wau markets briefly closed as university students demonstrated for food

The Mayor of Wau Municipal Council in Western Bahr el Ghazal State said traders have temporally closed their shops out of fear that they might incur losses as students of the University of Bahr el Ghazal took to the streets to protest food shortages on Monday.

The Mayor of Wau Municipal Council in Western Bahr el Ghazal State said traders have temporally closed their shops out of fear that they might incur losses as students of the University of Bahr el Ghazal took to the streets to protest food shortages on Monday.

On Monday morning, the demonstrating students threatened to storm markets to get food because they had gone for three weeks without food.

The students who stormed and blocked streets around the university campus were chanting “Kiir must go” and held placards written “No food, No elections.”  

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj over the closure of the markets, Wau Town Mayor Paulino Saed Uku confirmed the temporary closure of the markets and said the government is working to ensure the market vendors and their goods are protected from criminals who might take advantage.

“The students have not moved to the markets but criminals were planning to take advantage and loot the markets. The students did not have any link with markets and that is why we told the traders to close shops until the situation comes under control,” he said. “I went there before and I found that the students had closed the roads. I will now go to the market to ensure that the shops resume operations.”

Meanwhile, the state’s information minister, Nicola Samuel, confirmed that the traders closed shops to protect their merchandise.

“They (traders) were fearing because the situation created by the students could lead to the stealing of their goods but some of the shops are now open,” he stated. “Some criminals can take advantage if there are such kinds of incidents but there is no sign of any danger.”

Minister Samuel said the traders will be notified to reopen their shops during the day.

“Let them not fear, they will be notified to open. Let them not fear because it was only the university students who protested about lack of food and it is not the responsibility of the state government. The university falls under the responsibility of the national government,” he said. “We have now agreed to support them with food for seven days. Maybe the national government will intervene and food will be sent.”

On his part, the Chairperson of the Wau Trade Union, Wol Charles, said the traders closed shop to protect their goods.

A quick tour of the town by Radio Tamazuj confirmed that Jou Market, Wau Main Market, and Suq Hajar were still closed, with police forces deployed for protection.

“The traders were just fearing about this morning’s students; demonstration but they do not have any problem. It was a precaution because students were closing roads and harassing people on the streets,” Wol said.  “We were just in a meeting with the minister of trade and security organs and the issue has been resolved.”